“Getting more from e-learning” by Bryan Hopkins

Bryan HopkinsBryan Hopkins is a Senior Learning Solutions Officer from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Global Learning Centre in Budapest, Hungary.  Bryan has over 20 years of experience in training in the areas of learning design, solving performance problems and training of trainers.  Bryan gave a lecture on “getting more from e-learning” to UNITAR staff in April and here is a snapshot of his insightful presentation:

What makes good training for adult learners?
Training should:

  • Have a clear value and benefits (what’s in it for me?)
  • Be task- oriented, not knowledge-oriented (learners should be able to apply his/her knowledge to a specific task)
  • Be flexible to meet needs and abilities (learners should be able to pick what they want to learn)
  • Be under learner’s control (you cannot force learners to “learn” things)

3 models for training delivery:  Information delivery, Tell and test, Explore and learn

Bryan explained different models for training delivery and the most effective model to contribute to learner’s performance is “explore and learn” model.

Information delivery model (or lecture model) relies on assumptions about learner motivation to bride “information” and “performance”.  This model is usually “one size fits all” and “knowledge oriented”.  A lecturer gives information and a learner receives the information, however there is no step to check understanding and no opportunity to practice.

Tell and test model (Response strengthening) is a programmed way of presenting materials.  It treats leaner as a test mouse where mouse learns to press a button (stimulus); it gets food (response).  However it could be an effective way of delivering training on “procedures”.   It is based on the idea of “Behaviourism”.

Explore and learn model (Knowledge construction) mimics what is going on in our brain.  This model gives a learner a general task to follow, a source of information and the learner has to go and look for information to complete the task.  This is similar to how our brain works.  Our brain is able to pull information from different cells and synthesize them into something that has a meaning.  It is based on the idea of “Constructivism”.

So, what is the implication for e-Learning design?
e-Learning courses should:

  • Use its strengths constructively
  • Offer task-focused problems and interactions
  • Adapt to learners
  • Link to other media where they are better

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